How can an opening theme song be so terrifying? Not only the initial notes taking hold, but the entire horrifying twang that follows twisted my heart into knots as I listened to it. Even when my wife and I recently went back through a couple of years ago, that same spine-tingling sensation left me unnerved with each and every episode.
[play creepy music: du du di du du, du du du du da]
That’s right, I was afraid of the Unsolved Mysteries theme song and I cannot quantify how much, because it still irks me to this day. I really enjoyed the show as a kid, possibly in the 8 or 9 age range, and the show itself didn’t frighten me. Yes, it probably made me anxiously paranoid watching all of the disturbing cases pop up on the television, but it was that intro where I wouldn’t mind coming into the room late. Though, I couldn’t come into the room late, because I didn’t want to miss anything!
That’s the power of good television. I loved watching Robert Stack and listening to his voice as he narrated the mysterious accounts of disappearances, strange occurrences, or reuniting those who found help from strangers, yet never to be seen again. It left an impression on me to this day – meaning – don’t play that intro in my presence! I can’t be the only one, right? Was anyone else freaked out by this song as a kid?
That was my life. Getting excited each week for a new episode where I knew I would be afraid. The theme song wasn’t too long, but it was just long enough to wish it was a little shorter. The imagery that played on the screen with it, showing sequences from the show, amplified the music by connecting it to these crimes or other unsolved cases. It made it seem like Unsolved Mysteries was just around the corner, waiting to happen in real life. Although I don’t recall my exact reaction during the beginning of each episode, I imagine I held my breath as I sat in silence, hoping the theme song would end early this time – or the next time.
This show impacted my earlier years in so many ways: from closing blinds at night, so people can’t look into my home, to constantly looking over my shoulder as I walked home from the school bus, and to the moment when I would turn off the TV, leaving me in darkness, and then running up my townhome stairs to my bedroom. Perhaps all of it wasn’t attributed to this theme show, but I can’t remember being that way before watching Unsolved Mysteries.
To the show that terrified me with the opening credits, that boy was never the same again.